Ex-Coppin State star point guard Larry Yarbray Sr. dies in Delaware bicycle crash

Published on: September 12, 2022 5:02 PM EDT|Updated on: September 13, 2022 11:40 AM EDT

Chester's head coach Larry Yarbray, Sr. calls plays against Hershey during the 2nd quarter of second round of the PIAA class 5A Championships at Pottstown High School, 
Thursday,  March 16, 2017. Chester beats Hershey 61-51.

As a player, coach and teacher, Larry Yarbray Sr. is being remembered by those who knew him as someone who actively elevated the work of others over his lifetime.

His former teammates are recalling the basketball prowess that led him to a career record for the most assists in Coppin State University’s history, and how his game was akin to former NBA player, and now coach, Maurice Cheeks. They are remembering his role as Coppin State’s starting point guard when the men’s basketball team made its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance in 1990.

They are celebrating his life even as they mourn his loss. Yarbray died in a bike crash in Delaware Saturday, according to Delaware State Police. He was 51.

“Yarbray was like a Mo Cheeks,” said Stephen Stewart, a former roommate of Yarbray and basketball player at Coppin from 1991-1995. “And it made sense because he knew the game so well that he would always put you in the right position. And he would tell you, ‘I’m not going to give you the ball right there because that’s not where you’re going to be the most effective.’”

Yarbray was riding alongside a group of bicyclists on a road near Dover, Delaware when he lost control of his bike, swerved into the path of an oncoming pickup truck, and was hit, according to state police. An ambulance took him to Bayhealth Hospital, Kent Campus, where he was pronounced dead.

A native of Chester, Pennsylvania, Yarbray attended Coppin from 1988 to 1992. Sports writer Jerry Bembry began covering Coppin sports for The Baltimore Sun around the same time Yarbray started on the roster as a freshman. The two would reconnect for Bembry’s work on the ESPN documentary “On & Coppin” that was released in March. The documentary tells the story of former head coach Ron “Fang” Mitchell and the basketball team’s rise to becoming a March Madness Cinderella, when the No. 15 seed Eagles upset the No. 2 seed South Carolina Gamecocks in the opening round of the 1997 NCAA Tournament.

“He was a quiet player, definitely a leader — he was really smooth — that got the job done,” said Bembry.

“I know Fang Mitchell was really happy to have a floor leader like him to direct his basketball team,” Bembry said. “You know you had talented players like Phil Booth and Larry Stewart on that initial Coppin team that went to the NCAA tournament, but without a floor general like Larry Yarbray, those guys wouldn’t have been as impactful.”

In addition to his 622 assists that made a Coppin record, Yarbray’s 194 steals also rank fourth in school history, according to a statement from Coppin.

Mitchell said Yarbray was one of the best point guards he ever had. He said his drive to win was rooted in his intensity and ability to “keep everyone involved.”

“It was so devastating for me to hear about his passing. … And what I loved about him was his seriousness and discipline for the game. … He did his work on the floor, and didn’t do a lot of talking and screaming,” Mitchell said.

Yarbray most recently served as the head basketball coach at Delaware County Community College in Media, Pennsylvania, for the last five seasons. Prior to that, Yarbray was the head coach at Chester High School where he compiled a 214-53 record in nine seasons, guiding the Clippers to back-to-back PIAA Class 4A Titles, according to the statement.

The Delaware News Journal also reported that Yarbray founded a bicycling club called Chester Cycling and also worked as a middle school dean at Chester Community Charter School in his hometown.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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